Speaking on behalf of the European Union, I would like to thank UNHCR for the detailed overview provided of UNHCR progress towards implementing Grand Bargain commitments.
The Grand Bargain requires continued efforts by both aid organizations and donors. We would like to stress that the EU is committed to promote multiannual and flexible funding arrangements and to work towards the harmonisation of reporting requirements while ensuring that people-centered needs assessments are coordinated between agencies, and that the accountability, efficiency and visibility of EU support are strengthened.
We welcome that UNHCR is making progress on their Grand Bargain commitments. In particular, we appreciate the expansion of the use of biometrics, which contributes to reducing duplication and management costs, also thanks to the cooperation with WFP and IOM in this respect. We therefore encourage further close cooperation and synergies, including on inter-operability and in particular data protection.
On transparency, we welcome UNHCR’s adherence to international standards when it comes to reporting on donor funding. We would be interested in knowing if efforts are also underway to track funding down the transaction chain, and which share of funding reaches the final beneficiary.
We appreciate UNHCR’s commitment to localisation and welcome that the target of 25% of the funding being channelled through local and national entities has been met. The inclusion of 4% of the contract amounts as indirect support cost for local NGO partners is an excellent concrete way to support first line responders, although we note that local NGOs receive a lower percentage of indirect support costs as compared to international NGOs. We would appreciate if UNHCR could elaborate about the reasons.
We welcome UNHCR’s progress regarding the use of cash in their operations. In this respect, we would be interested in knowing if UNHCR uses joint platforms for cash distributions and what your related experience is.
We appreciate the simplification of UNHCR partnership arrangements, which has been instrumental during the COVID-19 response. In addition, we do believe that the upcoming integration of UNDP and IOM in the UN Partners Portal, launched by UNHCR in 2018, is an important step towards cooperation and coordination among UN agencies.
Promotion of gender equality in decision-making processes is another key principle in which the EU is pleased to see UNHCR efforts. As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, women and adolescent girls are often suffering the most due to an increase of gender-based violence, reduction of education opportunities and limited access to remote means. Therefore, we encourage UNHCR to lead by example in this respect.
In relation to needs assessments, we appreciate UNHCR decision to establish regional data hubs in all seven regional bureaux. This initiative, together with UNHCR-World Bank Joint Data Centre -which we support- and the UNHCR-UNICEF Blueprint for Joint Action are all solid steps to facilitate a programming based on reliable data. Overall, we strongly encourage inter-sectoral, people-centred needs assessment, in line with Grand Bargain commitments and progress in the Joint Intersectoral Analysis Framework.
Lastly, we appreciate that collaboration of UNHCR with development actors has increased, particularly with Multilateral Development Banks. This helps ensuring the early operational engagement of these actors and reinforcing the Humanitarian-Development Nexus. The EU will continue to support UNHCR in this respect, as a donor as well as a partner.